Your sales team is the engine that drives success for your company. As a sales leader, you need to make sure that team is both strong and stable. However, many sales managers struggle to retain top talent. To keep revolving-door syndrome at bay in your organization, check out these expert tips.
Tip #1: Have a powerful mission and vision. Your company’s mission and vision statements provide the context for everything that goes on inside your organization. The mission should be inspirational. It must also be congruent with the values and beliefs of your employees and encourage them to hold themselves to the highest standards. The vision, by contrast, should be aspirational. It must give employees a general but vivid picture of what they can achieve as part of the team. When employees are both inspired and aspire to greatness, they’re not likely to be looking to leave.
Tip #2: Monitor newly hired salespeople carefully for the first eight months of employment. Some new hires hit the ground running; some fall flat on their face; while yet others start strong but lose their way. The key to achieving the highest level of success with new hires is a good measurement system. Whether your reps are focused on new prospects, access to decision makers, or pure sales numbers, you must monitor their progress carefully. Keep careful tabs on new hires for at least the first eight months, providing guidance and coaching as necessary to keep them on track. If they’re still having problems after that, you’ll know they’re not a good fit for your organization.
Tip #3: Assign a mentor and a coach to new hires. Success among new hires is more predictable if you have two people helping each new employee assimilate and adapt to your unique sales environment. Assign each new hire a mentor who can show them the ropes. Also, be sure all new hires receive ongoing coaching from a sales executive or sales manager. By laying the groundwork for an easy transition into your organization, you’re far more likely to cultivate and retain high-performing employees.
Tip #4: Have a stable compensation plan. Some companies change compensation plans quarterly or monthly, hoping to drive short-term sales behavior. However, this on-again-off-again compensation causes sales reps to wonder whether the groundwork they’re laying today might be wasted effort tomorrow. The most effective companies tend to have the same compensation plan year after year. When you implement this, however, be careful that special bonuses and “SPIFs” don’t creep into the system and destabilize your otherwise stable compensation plan.
Tip #5: Make it clear that you consider sales to be a profession. Obviously, it’s a mistake to think of sales simply as a set of skills. Sales is a profession that requires many years to master. In today’s sales environments, companies create unique sales processes to address a unique set of customers. Specialization is the key to success, so encourage your sales professionals to specialize in a particular aspect of sales. Remember: the key difference between managers and professionals is that managers are generalists, while professionals are specialists.